Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Contrast of Faith

Wednesday:7 August, 2013 –– 18th Week in Ordinary Time
Numbers 13:1–2, 25–14:1 / Matthew 15:21–28
A Contrast of Faith

The two readings today give us a contrast of faith.

Consider this story about the Israelites. God had demonstratively delivered them from Egypt in the aftermath of plagues and protection from the “death angel” (with the institution of Passover). God had led them through the Red Sea. God had provided water from a rock, a deluge of quail, and daily manna as they made their way through an inhospitable desert. Now they were on the boundary of the land promised to them because of God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob....

Yet, they did not have the faith to believe God was bigger than giants in the land and fortified cities! For all the divine words given with majestic fire, and the visible fiery pillar of Presence as they journeyed, the people of God could not “see” God, but only the threatening obstacles.

The woman in the Gospel story was not an Israelite. She had not grown up hearing the Scriptures and being reminded of God’s promises to his people. We are told explicitly that she was a Canaanite––a pagan from the people who had been historic enemies of Israel.

Yet, somehow she had heard about Jesus. With that she had an inner spark of faith to recognize Jesus as the one hope for her daughter. So in an act of desperation deepened by outward humiliation she asked for even the “scraps” of grace that might fall from the One who stood before her. Jesus commended her faith, and her daughter was healed.

Every day of our lives we stand at a fork-road. We can look at our day and see the obstacles but forget the lessons and examples of grace that have surrounded us. Or, we can humbly admit the desperate situations that engulf us in a broken world and, in desperation of spirit, confess that unless Jesus has mercy on us we have no hope. 

That is the contrast of faith: to focus on the obstacles and miss God, or with desperate humility cast ourselves on the mercy, grace and power of our Crucified and Risen Lord. The option is before us today––and every day. How is our faith?

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